Delays for patients waiting for a mental health bed at Royal Adelaide Hospital’s emergency department are becoming more frequent, a mental health advocate says.
The Royal Adelaide Hospital confirmed that at one stage on Monday, 23 mental health patients were waiting in the emergency department.
Maurice Corcoran from the Community Visitors Scheme said one of those patients had been waiting for six days, while another six had been there for three days.
“It’s all too often that it’s happening to patients with a mental health presentation,” Mr Corcoran said.
“It has a far more detrimental effect on these patients and their families and they really should not be in there for that length of time.”
“I don’t think opening up more beds is always the answer,” he said.
“We have to have a really close look at how people are ending up in our emergency departments and whether we can do something better in the community way before they end up coming into the emergency department.”
Delays completely unacceptable: Health Minister
South Australia’s Health Minister Jack Snelling conceded that having 23 patients waiting for mental health beds was too high.
“It is just completely unacceptable to me that we have people having to wait for days at a time, mental health patients, for admission into an acute bed,” Mr Snelling said.
“I am determined to do something about it and I hope to have some announcements very shortly about what we’re going to do to fix this problem.”
Mr Snelling said he was working to fix the problem.
“We need better clinical governance over mental health to make sure that the system is working properly and to make sure people are being held accountable when the system is falling down,” he said.
“We’re probably a little on the light side for acute mental health beds compared to other states and it’s something I’m going to have a look at.”
This article first appeared on ‘Yahoo!7’ on 21 October 2014.